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Posted May 31, 2003
A FAIRY TALE WITHOUT A HAPPY ENDING
To most of the world the wedding of Hollywood star Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco probably had all the makings of a fairy tale. There was a handsome prince in the appropriately luxe setting. As we now know if this particular fairy tale lacked the requisite happy ending. The beginning and middle were not a bed of roses either according to biographer Taraborrelli. In almost 500 pages there is a great deal according to Taraborrelli, some of which seems questionable. The narrative is rife with assumptions, such as attributing thoughts to Grace with, 'She may have been thinking' or 'She would have been pleased.' Or, his comment regarding a family member's statement, '....that sounds so much like one her mother might have made.' All of these conclusions seem to imply an intimacy with his subject that the writer did not enjoy. Further the dust jacket claims that Grace's thoughts and feelings regarding her wedding are revealed. Another claim to stretch credibility. Lastly, where was Taraborrelli's editor? To mention only one oversight: the wrong year for the death of Princess Diana is an all too obvious mistake. Aside from those reservations Taraborrelli has done a yeoman's task of assembling the minutia of both subjects lives from Grace's Philadelphia birth to Rainier's loveless childhood to their less than eventful first meeting to the Grimaldi dynasty today. Born to Jack and Margaret Kelly, a couple who yearned to be a part of the upper echelon of Philadelphia society, Grace was one of four offspring. She would spend her life seeking her distant father's approval. Handsome and gregarious, Jack always wore custom-tailored suits and was known as one of the biggest characters in the City of Brotherly Love. He pinned his Olympic hopes on his son, Kell, and doted on daughter Peggy, who was tough and smart. An outsider in the family circle, Grace sought comfort within herself. When she was 18 Grace went to New York City and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Through dint of sheer determination and a modicum of luck she became a Hollywood star, eventually winning an Oscar for 'The Country Girl.' Even this did not impress papa Jack who at the time is quoted as saying that he thought Peggy might have received such an honor but never Grace. Her movie years were marked by unhappy love affairs with Ray Milland and William Holden. (Taraborrelli claims that there was never a romance between Grace and Clark Gable while other biographers make the opposite assertion.) In 1955 Grace attended the Cannes Film Festival. For publicity purposes it was suggested that she visit Monaco while in France and have her photo taken with Prince Rainier - a meeting that would dramatically alter the lives of both. The Grimaldis have ruled the storybook principality of Monaco for over 700 years. One of the most sought after bachelors in the world, Prince Rainier well knew it was time for him to marry and produce an heir to the throne. While Grace, following adverse publicity concerning her affair with the married Ray Milland, concluded, 'I hated Hollywood. It's a town without pity.' The pair met briefly, each expressing the wish that they might meet again. They did, indeed. Upon a visit to the United States the following year Rainier, described as a 'shy, sometimes moody man,' proposed to Grace and she accepted, despite her strong feelings for fashion designer Oleg Cassini. In later years, when Rainier is asked whether or not it had been love at first sight, he replied, 'No....I don't believe in love at first sight anyway.' It is a wishy-washy expression, which I don't use.' Nonetheless, to the world theirs was a fairy tale romance capped by a fairy tale wedding. However, few in the world knew about the fertility test Grace was required to take, the dowry required, and the marriage agreement in which she relinquished all rights to any children the couple may have should the marriag
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